New policy to provide ART irrespective of clinical stage: Nadda

New Delhi: Union Health Minister J.P. Nadda on Friday announced a new Test and Treat Policy for HIV, under which as soon as a person is found to be positive, they will be provided with ART irrespective of their CD count or clinical stage.

This will be for all men, women, adolescents and children who have been diagnosed as a HIV positive, he said, adding that this will “improve longevity, improve quality of life of those infected and will save them from many opportunistic infections, especially TB”.

On the occasion, Nadda also announced that India will soon develop a National Strategic Plan for HIV for next seven years and these seven years will be crucial for ending AIDS.

Laying stress on addressing stigma and discrimination towards HIV, he said that this is of paramount importance to enable persons infected and affected with HIV access health services.

“To facilitate reduction in stigma and discrimination, the long pending HIV/AIDS Act has been passed very recently, which is an historical step. Very few countries globally have such a law to protect rights of people infected with HIV,” said Nadda.

According to Nadda, the key provisions of HIV/AIDS Bill are prohibition of discrimination, informed consent, non-disclosure of HIV status, anti-retroviral therapy & opportunistic infection management, protection of property of affected children, safe working environment and appointment of ombudsman in every state.

Stating that all HIV + patients should get treatment and for that the Health Ministry is constantly expanding treatment delivery sites, he said: “Health Ministry have nearly 1, 600 ART and Link ART sites where treatment is provided across the country and recently crossed the 1 million people on ART, second country in world to have such large numbers on free lifelong treatment.

“We have been able to avert 1.5 lakh deaths due to ART and we will be able to avert 4.5 lakh more deaths by expanding provision of ART.”

The Health Ministry has adopted 90:90:90 strategy under which it will help to identify 90 percent of those infected, place 90 per cent of these on treatment and ensure 90 per cent have their virus under control, he said.

“This strategy will offer us an opportunity to work towards our commitment during HLM and WHA on ‘ending AIDS by 2030’ as a part of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG),” Nadda added.